Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o answered all questions -- football- and dating-related -- during his 15-minute press conference Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine. But on Monday, he tried to let his skills do the talking as he took part in drills designed to help prove his worth in the pro football draft.
The Notre Dame star may not have started out on the right foot with teams after he said he wouldn't take part in the bench press workout due to suffering from a stinger in his right shoulder. Then, he proceeded to turn in a slow 40-yard dash time of 4.82, which was the seventh-slowest time of the 26 linebackers who did the drill.
Te'o also struggled with his explosiveness during many of the drills and weighed in at 241 pounds, which is lighter than other linebackers, raising doubts that he will be picked in the first round of the draft.
It's just another blip on the radar for the linebacker. Te'o won the Chuck Bednarik trophy, awarded to the nation's top defensive player, and he was a Heisman Trophy finalist, but all of that is a distant memory, thanks to a “catfish” scandal.
Last year, Te'o said he was dedicating the football season to his grandmother and his girlfriend Lennay Kakua, who died within days of each other. He later learned that Kakua, whom he met online, never existed. He then admitted he lied for a short time, continuing to tell Kakua's story after finding out it was a hoax. Plus, on the gridiron, Te'o had a lackluster performance in the BCS title game against Alabama.
Teo said Saturday that he had learned lessons over the last few weeks.
"I’ve learned to be honest in everything you do," Te'o said. "And to keep your circle small and know who’s in your corner and who’s not."
Once considered a top 10 draft pick by NFL and college football pundits, Te'o said teams have quizzed him about the hoax.
"They want to be able to trust their player," Te'o said. "You don’t want to invest in somebody who you can't trust. With everyone here, they're just trying to get to know you as a person and as a football player. I understand where they're coming from. It could be a hurdle or it could also be a great opportunity to show who you really are."
Te'o said he already met with the Green Bay Packers and the Houston Texans and plans to meet with 18 other teams. He doesn't know how the "catfish" incident will affect where he'll play.
"They haven’t really said anything about it affecting me. Some guys just talk briefly for 30 seconds and the next 14 minutes is all plays and getting down to business. That's how I prefer it to be," he said.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle appeared on NFL.com and said he talked with Texans' coach Gary Kubiak, who said Te'o showed "lots of poise" during his team interview.
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said he's had to do things a little out of the ordinary in researching Te’o.
"I did watch Dr. Phil for the first time in my life," Spielman told the Pioneer Press in reference to the interview Dr. Phil did with Ronaiah Tuisosopo, who admitted he tricked Te'o into believing he had a girlfriend.
Atlanta Falcons' general manager Thomas Dimitroff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the team needs to do its research on Te'o.
"What I’ll say about the Manti Te'o situation is that it’s about us and our responsibility as team builders to break down the situation and determine what truly is the truth," he said. "Let's do our research on him. Let's not all overreact and start throwing darts on him."
What do you think? Which team do you think will draft Te'o? Would you want him on your football team? Share your thoughts in the comments below.